Embedding redistribution through comms and engagement

Date : 13 July 2021

Learn how Greencore fully embedded food surplus redistribution


During 2020, Greencore donated 1.5 million meals to people in need.  However, the organisation has ambitions to accelerate its surplus food redistribution way beyond that and has committed to an ambitious target to redistribute 100% of its surplus product to communities by 2022.

Norman Watson, Group Sustainability Manager at Greencore shares his experience of how they embedded and continue to review their approach to redistribution.

What steps have you taken to better embed redistribution across your organisation?

We have put in place Redistribution Champions at each site.  These people take responsibility for being the day to day contact with our redistribution partners and making arrangements with them to move surplus food stock. If they have any problems at all they can raise them with me.

We’ve also agreed with our redistribution partners what information we’d like back from them, and how frequently we need it.  For example, each partner provides details on how much surplus they’ve redistributed and how many meals that has generated.  We then share this information with our site teams.

We also use this information to support internal and external communication campaigns, such as the recent Food Waste Action Week which was used to draw focus on food waste and the redistribution of surplus food. Our on-going communications help to raise awareness of the impact of food waste, the benefits of surplus food redistribution, and the positive impact of the work the team at Greencore are doing for their local communities and for society in general.

How did you ensure that teams at individual sites understood why your organisation is accelerating food surplus redistribution?

We made food surplus redistribution a key area of focus in our inaugural stand-alone sustainability report, Making Every Day Taste Better, which we published in November 2020

We also signed up to Champions 12.3, and committed to the Food Waste Reduction Roadmap, both of which aim to accelerate progress towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal 12.3 – to halve global food waste by 2030.

This is an important issue for Greencore, which is led from our Board and CEO through the whole organisation.

How did you ensure that you avoided any resistance to change?

We have huge support throughout the business. Most of our colleagues are aware of the devastating impacts of food insecurity and the positive impact that food surplus redistribution can have. We have been able to challenge assumptions and bust any myths people may have had around redistributing surplus food, which has definitely helped.

We explained the simplicity of food surplus redistribution, that it wouldn’t be resource intensive on sites and that it’s as simple as identifying any issues that could lead to surplus food arising.  We also explained how it wasn’t expensive to do and we highlighted the cost benefits.

Once we laid out the facts and busted myths, everyone can see it’s straightforward and has huge benefits.

What governance, ownership and measurement have you put in place?

The only target we set for our site Redistribution Champions is to redistribute as much as they can!

To help achieve our surplus redistribution goals we are currently updating our Food Redistribution Standard. This has all the processes clearly laid out and is in line with current guidance and best practice. We are also adding some automated metrics to help our sites capture the surplus data in a meaningful way.  

How do you ensure the Food Redistribution Standard is well understood and bought into?

The Food Redistribution Standard we’ve developed walks the reader through all the stages of redistribution, how to address any issues and which redistribution partners they can send our products to.   

The Standard also contains the approvals to redistribute surplus product from our customers. This informs our colleague where any products and ingredients can go. It contains a technical document that outlines all requirements Greencore has to be able to work with redistribution partners.

We have kept it really simple and straight forward and covered all product types and what to do in any instance that food surplus arises.

We regularly review our approach, driving continuous improvement and simplifying as we go.

What steps have you taken to raise awareness of the positive impact that your redistributed food is having?

In addition to our internal communications we also communicate the work we’ve done on social media and pull together case studies and share them.

Do you have any final advice?

It’s not as difficult as you think, it really isn’t!

There are myths in place that stop people that aren’t correct, just pick the phone up to a redistributor and they will help!

Check the IGD website here for more great support!

About the author

Norman Watson Norman Watson has a background in environmental consultancy and has worked at Greencore for eleven years. His first role was as the Group Environmental Advisor, primarily focused on reducing food waste, energy usage and water consumption within Greencore’s operations. He is now employed as the Group Sustainability Manager supporting the group to identify and coordinate Greencore’s surplus food redistribution activities. Norman also has key responsibilities for the Group’s waste management requirements. This involves ensuring legal compliance, exploring emerging technologies and waste valorisation opportunities.